Thursday, January 14, 2010

THE LAST LULLABY

A surprisingly accomplished and thoughtful low-budget crime drama, THE LAST LULLABY (2009) is directed by Jeffrey Goodman from a screenplay co-written by noted thriller and mystery author Max Allan Collins (Based on his novel, The Last Quarry).

Tom Sizemore plays Price, a retired hitman at loose ends. Instead of the peaceful, normal existence he'd hoped for, he finds himself struggling with boredom and anxiety and restlessness. That all changes when he stumbles upon a group of kidnappers hiding out in his neck of the woods. Impulsively, he takes it upon himself to snatch their victim - a millionaire's daughter - for himself, and soon finds himself in business with her father. But when he's hired to kill a seemingly innocuous librarian, he finds himself compelled to find out just why exactly the girl has been targeted for murder.

LULLABY is a fairly remarkable film, with a leisurely pace that reminded me of some of Soderberg's early films. There's also a tone to the movie that evokes classic 70's crime films and a smattering of classic noir atmosphere. Peter Biegen and Collins' (author of The Road To Perdition graphic novel, which was the basis for the Sam Mendes/Tom Hanks film) screenplay is grounded in logic, genuine emotion and naturalistic dialogue - punctuated with bursts of shocking violence. For his first feature-length film, Goodman's direction is confident and well-paced; the movie never rushes, but neither does it drag. And Sizemore gives one of the best performances of his career as the world-weary but human assassin Price. That's not to say that the rest of the cast doesn't keep up, though. Goodman has assembled an especially talented ensemble, including Bill Smitrovich (MANHUNTER), Sasha Alexander and Jerry Hardin (X-FILES).

The DVD is currently only available through the film's official website (www.thelastlullaby.com). A bare-bones disc devoid of any supplemental features whatsoever, it nonetheless sports a gorgeous 1.85:1 widescreen transfer that ably showcases the fine cinematography of Director of Photography Richard Rutkowski.

In the interests of full disclosure, screenwriter Max Allan Collins is a friend of mine, and we have collaborated on several projects in the past. I am also an unabashed fan and champion of his writing, especially the "Quarry" series of novels upon which the "Price" character in THE LAST LULLABY is based. That said, a good movie is a good movie, and I happen to think this is a very good movie.

If you're looking for an intelligent, patient crime drama that delivers both creatively and emotionally,while still packing a visceral punch, swing by THE LAST LULLABY website and pick up a copy of the DVD. Personally, I'm hoping that the film gets picked up for theatrical distribution and gets play on the big screen - it's that good.

Highly Recommended.

BUY: The Last Lullaby